It is almost that time of year again; the best week in Gloucester’s calendar: the annual Gloucester Rhythm & Blues Festival starts on Saturday!
To call this the best week in Gloucester’s calendar is high praise: there are countless excellent events happening throughout the city during the year. Just last weekend I enjoyed the Gloucester Quays Food Festival – if you are a foodie, maybe that is your highlight. This weekend also sees the carnival and next weekend there’s a new event that looks very promising: Gloucester Paint Jam, which celebrates the city’s burgeoning street art. Then of course, in September there’s the History Festival and Heritage Open Days for the history buffs (and a chance to come along to one of my guided pub tours). And that is just scratching the surface of the many excellent events hosted in the city.
I don’t deny that all of that is brilliant, but for me the Rhythm & Blues Festival is the perfect mix of pubs and music. This is the festival’s twelfth year and it provides nine days of free music, with over 50 live acts appearing over nine venues. Eight of these venues are pubs: Cafe Rene, Cross Keys, Dick Whittington, Fountain, New Inn, Old Bell, Coach and Horses and Dean’s Walk; the final venue is one of the city’s best cafes: Peppers in Bull Lane.
Some of the pubs only have music on one night, some host music throughout the event. Some acts are local, some national, some international. The final weekend is dominated by the legendary Cafe Rene all-day event on the Green Stage in Greyfriars, complete with beer festival and barbecue, but even then there are some excellent alternative options in other venues. For a full schedule of events see the web page here.
This is one week of the year when I tend to live down to people’s expectations and spend pretty much the whole week in the pub. It is bad for my wallet and bad for my liver, but very, very good for my soul. Bring it on!
P.S. If you are coming along to the Blues Festival but aren’t a regular pub goer it may be worth taking a look at my thoughts on the pub rules to avoid any embarrassing faux-pas….
*Note: all pictures taken during 2011 Blues Festival. I left my camera at home for the past couple of years to concentrate on drinking – I may try to do better this year.